There's a mood—a combination of glamor, chivalry, and sweetness—that permeates Old Hollywood. The films from the era are often considered among the most romantic of all time, and its stars have become the genre's prototypes. Every dashing leading man today requires a Humphrey Bogart swagger; each ingenue should be able to balance strength and grace as well as Katherine Hepburn.
MORE LIFE GALLERIES:
Great Screen Kisses
LIFE's Best Oscar Photos
LIFE - The Week's Best Photos: 2.11.11
But the undeniable quality that set that generation of silver screen stars apart from the rest was their magnetic chemistry—a palpable attraction that often continued when the cameras stopped rolling ... and sometimes even lasted until death did them part. The Golden Age of Hollywood birthed some of the most storied, passionate, occasionally even tumultuous romances of our time. In honor of Valentine's Day, here's a look back at some of the best:
See more photos at LIFE.com.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.